Six degrees

I had to help give a standardized test today, so I had a sub for my morning classes. The test ended a little earlier than I expected, so when I got back to my room, I had a chance to chat with the sub for a few minutes.

He had read the autobiographical article I’d posted on my newspaper-themed bulletin board and noticed I was an SIUC alumna. He said his girlfriend was from Carbondale, and her grandfather was a retired SIU math professor.

The odds of an English major knowing anyone in the math department were fairly slim, but on a lark, I asked him if he remembered the professor’s name.

“Dr. Elston,” he said, searching for a first name.

“Not George Elston?” I asked.

He thought that sounded right.

“Does he have a daughter named Jetta?” I queried.

“Yeah! You know her?”

Do I know her? She was my seventh-grade English teacher, my little sister’s scholar bowl coach, and the mother of one of my little sister’s best friends from Sunday school. In high school, I used to grade papers for her while babysitting her daughters. That experience more or less cemented my decision to become an English teacher … and here I was this morning, 500 miles and 22 years removed from Jetta’s classroom, talking to her niece’s boyfriend.

I never cease to be amazed by life’s odd little John Guare moments….


5 thoughts on “Six degrees”

  1. You should contact Jetta and say hello. I’ve found that when these odd coincidences happen, it’s God’s way of telling you something. You may be given further instructions when you talk to her. Who knows? Maybe she needs to talk to you about something. . . You’ll know for sure if something else happens to remind you of her in the next day or two.

  2. Sounds like Mom has been reading the Celestine prophecy again. 🙂 But, it’s probably true. Did you know Leslie is in Louisville where Margaret is these days?

  3. Hi, Emily, It’s been a long time talking to you in ?person. I ran into Grace at Kroger about two weeks ago and somehow you ended up in a dream of mine. Maybe that’s how things connected. Love your blog. More later, Jetta

  4. jetta, my sister had sent this to me last night. i had tried to get on, but with no success……so then i e-mailed her back…and she sent me back an updated adress and this time i was able to get on.
    Jake is my daughter Erin’s boyfriend that subbed for you the other day. just wanted to say hello. i am going to call my father tonight and tell him the story.

  5. Jetta! Awesome to hear from you! You’ll be pleased to hear that I am helping our scholar bowl coach with the team this year. She has me read the practice questions and help moderate games. The kids won their first game this year. Hopefully they can keep it going this week.

    Rachel: I daresay your daughter picked a good one. Jake is one of the few subs I’ve had who actually followed the lesson plan and got some work out of the kids. Keeping a bunch of crazy sophomores quiet and focused for an entire class period isn’t easy, but he pulled it off. I don’t miss school often, but you can bet I’ll always request him on those rare occasions when I have to be out of the classroom.

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